Research

I am a computational evolutionary biologist. I develop models, methods, and statistics to study the processes by which life changes, moves, and interacts across time and space. While I am broadly interested in questions in evolutionary biology, I have a special interest in questions that incorporate biogeographical, phylogeographical, or phylogenetic perspectives.

I am working on a broad range of exciting computational projects aimed at developing new methods for analyses in evolutionary biology, that not only allow us to answer old questions that we have always been asking but have not been able to answer, but also open up entirely novel frontiers of questions to be asked and answered.

For example, I have developed a new statistical model that explicitly links microevolutionary processes with macroevolutionary ones for the first time in historical biogeographical analyses. With this approach, some long-standing classical biogeographical theories can, at last, after decades, be actually analyzed in a modern and rigorous statistical model-selection framework. One of these is the famous “taxon cycle”, which, among other themes, suggests an association between a particular lineage\’s affinity for disturbed or habitat and its capacity for dispersal. More generally, with this new method, we can ask and answer a broader variety of questions relating to the regulation of any of the major macroevolutionary processes of speciation, extinction, and dispersal by any lineage-specific trait or traits, ecological or otherwise.

Other projects that I am currently working on include: a new approach for genomic species delimitation that distinguishes between structure due to population isolation vs. that due to species boundaries; a method for identifying whether phylogenetic or neutral geographical processes dominate host-parasite biogeographical co-evolution; and a method for determining the processes that drive the evolution of each gene in a particular system (ILS, HGT, etc.), which will allow for better modeling of the data when carrying genome-scale phylogenetic inference.

I spend a lot of time programming (mostly in Python, C/C++, and R; though I also work with a wide variety of other languages, technologies and platforms). I have a background in herpetology (Southeast Asian herpetological phylogenetics and biogeography in particular), and this often serves as the motivating framework or a typical “use-case scenario” for some of my research into methods and theory.

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